A poetry project - Driving Downtown to The Show



Atlanta by jkelley1 on deviantart

As many of you know, I've always been one of those artists who must be doing multiple things at once. Writing plays, writing songs, playing music, sometimes acting, writing screenplays, sometimes film making, writing poems, decoupaging tables...there's really nothing I won't at least try when it comes to art. I've decided lately, though, to kind of put everything on the back burner and focus on music, specifically Pocket the Moon. I spend most of my time promoting, booking, writing music, practicing, recording, etc. (Well, Geoff's really doing most of the work on recordings. I just show up and play/sing. He's the one who makes it sound badass.)

I am still doing my grad school program, though. I'm pursuing my MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Playwriting. And while I'm sort of taking a break from writing plays specifically to really concentrate on Pocket the Moon, I am still working on poetry for my poetry writing workshop.

My professor in this class, though, wanted us to come up with these incredibly elaborate procedures. We are basically writing enough poems over the course of the semester to have a chapbook of poems at the end, and he wanted us to come up with "rules" that decide the content, length, and writing schedule. He also wanted us to come up with a title for our books.

I decided that since I am focusing so much on music right now, not just my own music, but also being a part of the Atlanta music scene that my procedure (and my book title) would incorporate this theme.

Here’s my procedure:

Writing schedule: Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, I will write a poem after band practice.

Content: I will look up the bands on the bill of a certain music venue, and in my poem I will have to use one of those band names in the first five lines of my poem. (Tuesdays - The Earl, Thursdays - Star Bar, Sundays - Drunken Unicorn - because those are probably my favorite venues.)

Length: When I sit down to write, I will put my iPod on shuffle. Whatever song plays, I will look up the lines of lyrics and that is how many lines my poem will be. If it is an instrumental song, the length will determine my line count. (i.e. a song that’s 4:57 would be 57 lines in 4 stanzas.)

Title: Driving Downtown to the Show


This is obviously not how I usually write poems. I might start with a particular form in mind or even a writing prompt, but never something as elaborate as this. But so far, I am really loving the work that is coming out of it. And having to write three poems a week after coming out of a period where I haven’t written any poems for at least two years was definitely a challenge at first. But now, I’m right back into the swing of things.

These are some of the band names I’ve used so far:
Hip to Death
Wild Nothing
How I Became the Bomb
Dead Rabbits
Quiet Life
The Future of Airports

Another reason I'm loving this project is because it further reinforces the idea that all of the artistic projects I am involved in are connected. I can never just be a poet, playwright, musician. I am always all of the above. My poetry is greatly influenced by music, my music is greatly influenced by theatre, my plays are greatly influenced by poetry, it's all connected!

I’ll leave you with one of the poems I’ve written for this project. The band name I had to use that day was Siberia My Sweet (which is also one of my favorite local bands ironically.)


Frozen Tundra

Last August, when the salty, suffocating air
nearly strangled us

as we crept through the Deep South
you took my hand and said,

"Let's travel to Siberia, my sweet
and become one with the frozen tundra.

We can become snowmen with
little black hats, and at least we'll

know that we'll never melt away,
our hands frozen together

in miles of ice and snow." You smiled
at me and kissed my cheek.

I untangled my fingers from yours
and kissed the night air of the Deep South.


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